Paul Rucker: The symbols of systemic racism -- and how to take away their power
Paul Rucker creates art that explores issues related to mass incarceration, racially-motivated violence, police brutality and the continuing impact of slavery in the US. Full bio
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to mark slaves as property.
that attended these lynchings,
that portray black people as criminals
when they were marked.
were going to be slaves
my imagination when I was younger
Ku Klux Klan rallies occasionally,
never really left my mind.
with that imagery until 25 years later.
I started researching the Klan,
had more than five million active members,
of the population at the time,
of New York City at the time.
neighborhood of Georgia was so busy
to keep up with orders.
to keep up with the demand.
and as an artist,
to be part of my collection,
and objects tell stories,
that was really good quality.
Klan robe that he's looking for?
the best quality Klan robes in America.
you would see at any KKK rally.
satins and different patterns.
I make them for young kids
the Klan had in place
a hundred years ago
that are keeping these policies in place.
the long-term impact of slavery.
with the residue of systemic racism.
of every single thing we do.
of minorities incarcerated.
We have police brutality.
you're being discriminated against.
in America is slavery.
Nathan Bedford Forrest,
and a millionaire slave trader.
from chattel slavery --
would boggle the mind.
equalled 200 million dollars.
five billion dollars today.
through generational wealth.
for the entire year.
that white supremacy is there,
of white supremacy is not the KKK,
over me at all.
are part of our history,
no more power over us.
of who we are as a country,
about the intentional segregation
neighborhoods and workplaces.
can we actually address
ABOUT THE SPEAKERPaul Rucker - Visual artist, cellist
Paul Rucker creates art that explores issues related to mass incarceration, racially-motivated violence, police brutality and the continuing impact of slavery in the US.
Why you should listen
Paul Rucker is a visual artist, composer, and musician who often combines media, integrating live performance, sound, original compositions and visual art. His work is the product of a rich interactive process, through which he investigates community impacts, human rights issues, historical research and basic human emotions surrounding particular subject matter. Much of his current work focuses on the Prison Industrial Complex and the many issues accompanying incarceration in its relationship to slavery. He has presented performances and visual art exhibitions across the country and has collaborated with educational institutions to address the issue of mass incarceration. Presentations have taken place in schools, active prisons and also inactive prisons such as Alcatraz.
His largest installation to date, REWIND, garnered praise from Baltimore Magazine awarding Rucker "Best Artist 2015." Additionally, REWIND received "Best Solo Show 2015" and "#1 Art Show of 2015" from Baltimore City Paper, reviews by The Huffington Post, Artnet News, Washington Post, The Root and The Real News Network. Rucker has received numerous grants, awards and residencies for visual art and music. He is a 2012 Creative Capital Grantee in visual art as well as a 2014 and 2018 MAP (Multi-Arts Production) Fund Grantee for performance. In 2015 he received a prestigious Joan Mitchell Painters & Sculptors Grant as well as the Mary Sawyer Baker Award. In 2016 Paul received the Rauschenberg Artist as Activist fellowship and the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, for which he is the first artist in residence at the new National Museum of African American Culture.
Residencies include MacDowell Colony, Blue Mountain Center, Ucross Foundation, Art OMI, Banff Centre, Pilchuck Glass School, Rauschenberg Residency, Joan Mitchell Residency, Hemera Artist Retreat, Air Serembe, Creative Alliance and the Rockefeller Foundation Study Center in Bellagio, Italy. In 2013-2015, he was the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation Artist in Residence and Research Fellow at the Maryland Institute College of Art. He was most recently awarded a 2017 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2018 TED Fellowship and the 2018 Arts Innovator Award from the Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation and Artist Trust. Rucker is an iCubed Visiting Arts Fellow embedded at the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Rucker's latest work, Storm in the Time of Shelter, an installation of 52 custom Ku Klux Klan robes and related artifacts, is featured in the exhibition "Declaration," on view at the new Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia through September 9, 2018.
Paul Rucker | Speaker | TED.com